"And All The People..."
I love strong congregations of the church, who doesn't? But, no matter how great a congregation may be there is always room for improvement and growth. Nehemiah 8 may help us see some areas in which to improve.
"All the people gathered themselves together." Notice in verse two both men and women and all who could understand were there. I want us to understand not only the importance of gathering together to worship God, but also to have our children with us. There will be many children lost to eternity because their parents failed to bring them to hear. If we are going to nurture our children in the admonition of the Lord, Ephesians 6:4. Then we must understand, the sooner we get the truth implanted in them, the better for their souls.
"All the people gathered themselves together as one man." When we come together to worship, we too are to be united as one man. Paul declared in 1 Corinthians 1:10 that there should be no divisions amongst us. And he is just not talking about cliques. We are to "Speak the same thing.....be perfectly joined together in the same mind and the same judgment." The word judgment (Gnome) references being of the same opinion. How great would a congregation be if every member in particular allowed God's words to determine their thoughts and opinions? Do you?
"Bring the book of the Law of Moses." Notice the desire of the congregation. They wanted Ezra to bring the scriptures, they built him a pulpit (V4) and as he opened the book to read and expound the people reverenced God. Notice their eagerness to hear the Words of God. "As the deer panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God." Psalm 42:1. They wanted nothing else but the truth. Wouldn't it be nice if everyone in every congregation today had the same mentality. "Bring me the Bible, whether it hurts or not?"
"Read from the morning until midday." Scholars say he read about six hours. And notice the people were attentive the entire time. SIX HOURS. We talk about our limited attention spans today. But, we can watch a 3 hour football game, a 3 1/2 hour baseball game, or a 2 hour movie. But, anything more than 20 minutes from the pulpit, well, our attention span is only 20 minutes. Maybe, and I am just thinking out loud, perhaps this is a sign of a heart problem?
What a wonderful day we read about in Nehemiah 8. May we learn from this chapter what God desires today, Romans 15:4.